Photograph your artwork


Display annual exhibition artworks..

Members are invited to send in ONE of their 2022 Exhibition submissions for display on the SAAS website 2022 Exhibition Gallery.  The preferred work should be sent to enquiries@stalbans-artsociety.org.uk.  Members are invited to send in images as soon as their 2022 Exhibition entry papers are ready.  The image submission deadline for the SAAS website is Sunday 3 July which is one week after the final date for entries.  The images remain copyright of the artist. Please include your name as you wish it to appear, the title of the artwork, the year completed, the size of the artwork in centimetres (Height x Width x (Depth for 3D objects)), and the medium used. This information will be placed alongside your image.

Please read the information below to help you make the photographs and send them to us by email.


Reasons why you should make photographs of your artwork

Here are the salient ones..

  • Record to make a definitive catalogue or personal journal of your work.
  • Repurpose to produce fine art reproductions or greeting cards.
  • Reinterpret to make digital collages, posterisation, and vector art.
  • Reveal your work on personal or public websites and social media.

Tips on how to make pictures of your artwork

The camera is a valuable tool for analysis and conservation.  Professional photography of artwork for these purposes uses sophisticated rigs with high resolution digital cameras, colour calibration, and perhaps software-based multiple image stitching. An indication of what is possible can be seen at

https://artsandculture.google.com/project/art-camera and https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/press/press-releases/rijksmuseum-publishes-717-gigapixel-photograph-of-the-night-watch

However, very acceptable results can still be obtained with a modest amount of relatively inexpensive equipment. Try to adhere to the following principles.

  • Get the light right

Good photography is all about optimum lighting for your subject. In the case of photographing artwork make sure the lighting is diffuse and even. Bright but overcast conditions are best, use a large window as the light source if making the photograph indoors. Do not use direct flash because it is prone to cause uneven lighting, unwanted reflections, and possible colour casts if the light bounces off coloured objects. Watch for unwanted shadows and reflections, especially on glass mounted works.  Instead of using flash keep the camera steady for longer exposures.  A image made in this way will not not have the problems due to flash exposure at close distances to the object.

  • Ensure the film plane is parallel with two-dimensional artwork

Don’t attempt to hand hold the camera.  If the camera is not aligned correctly it can give unwanted distortion e.g., the keystone effect. This is accentuated if you are using a wide-angle lens or smartphone/tablet camera with limited lens options. Nevertheless, if you do not have a camera and tripod good results can be obtained using a smartphone or tablet camera if placed overhanging the edge of a table with the artwork placed on the ground. Be careful not to overbalance your smart device onto the floor.  If you have a spirit level it can be used to check that neither the camera/table nor artwork is badly tilted in any direction.

  • Fill the frame

It is best to get the highest possible resolution from the start. A modest telephoto lens or zoom setting can help do this by filling the frame with the subject. A telephoto lens at a distance will also cause less distortion than using a wide angle lens close up (Modest telephotos of 75mm-100mm focal length in 35mm format are traditionally used in portraiture for this reason). Otherwise, adjust the distance between the camera and the artwork to fill the camera frame. If you are using the table technique try adjusting the distance with a box or pile of books underneath the artwork. This arrangement is shown in the diagram above. The artwork has been positioned partly under the table and raised on a plastic storage box to fill the smartphone camera lens field of view.

  • Keep the camera steady

A modern camera may not have a hand-held cable release socket for the shutter (a smartphone or tablet certainly won’t have one). However, a timer release and image
 stabilisation are likely to be available to you. The timer release function of your camera or device app will be an additional aid to obtaining a sharp image, set the timer going and remember to step lightly away so that you don’t cast a shadow or create vibrations.

If you can use RAW file formats in your camera do so, this will give better options when it comes to editing.  Examples of RAW file formats would be DNG for Android and ProRAW for high end IOS smartphones.  The HEIF (High Efficiency Image File format) format is available for other IOS smartphones and may be preferred to JPG files.  However, there is also the option to capture raw files in DNG format with third party apps on IOS smartphones.  Camera manufacturers may have their own proprietary RAW files or they may choose to use the DNG standard.

  • Editing workflow

There are plenty of options available for choosing editing software.

And a typical and simple editing workflow would look something like this..

  1. Crop/Rotation
  2. Adjust levels OR Adjust curves OR Both
  3. Adjust hue/saturation
  4. Sharpening
  5. Export

Note: If your aim is to use sophisticated and expensive software then it is also advisable to manage the colour in the workflow from the camera to the computer monitor, this will involve purchasing extra tools for making camera profiles and display profiles.

  • Image size for sending by email

For submission to the SAAS website export from your editing software in the 100% quality .JPG file format, and it is best to send a high resolution image >240 dpi because it is easier to prepare for the web than a low resolution image. A low resolution image would not do justice to your artwork and may not be acceptable.  Most email providers will limit attachment size, and these allowances vary considerably, but there will be enough capacity to send a good quality image of approximately 5MB in size.  Just watch for any warnings or non delivery reports for when an email has either not been sent, or bounced at the recipient end, because it is too large.

Members who have questions about the above, or are interested in showing several of their artworks in a slider under their name for permanent display on the site, please email enquiries@stalbans-artsociety.org.uk